A strong majority of more than 1,000 voters from seven eastern coal-producing states would like to see their elected leaders shift away from protecting the coal industry and instead move toward trying to diversify their economies, according to a new poll by a Republican public opinion research firm. When asked what decision-makers in their state should prioritize, respondents chose “assisting rural, coal-mining areas to attract new employers, diversify the economy, and ensure workers get new jobs in growing industries” over “fighting government regulations that have made it harder to produce coal, to ensure the good-paying jobs in mining come back.” Overall, 62 percent said diversification, nearly double the 32 percent who preferred fighting coal regulations. Respondents were even more supportive of the RECLAIM Act, a proposal in Congress to release $1 billion dollars from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to help revitalize coal communities hit hardest by the downturn in the coal industry. Support was overwhelming in all seven states, with an average of 89 percent saying they would support the measure. Majorities in every state also agreed that it is time to emphasize efficiency and clean energy over coal..The poll, which surveyed 150 voters each in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, was sponsored by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and the Sierra Club and conducted by Public Opinion Strategies.